If I remember correctly from ninth grade English, everything bad happens at three in the morning. But four is really where it gets good; I had it on the mind, thanks to a visiting scholar in Aristotle's metaphysics who makes a point to rise then, and urged my class to do likewise. One morning, by accident, I started to see what part of the deal is.
I should start by saying I went to bed at 9:30 the night before. I wasn’t sick, and I wasn’t suddenly five. But it was the Major’s Fair, which is where all of the academic departments have tables and talk to freshmen and sophomores about what it means to study different things at Carleton. I was sitting at the philosophy table with (not on) my department chair and somehow, we managed to make each other extremely tired. She told me about how she was up until two the night before helping her daughter with an art project, I tried really hard to avoid bringing up the fact that I still hadn’t chosen a comps topic, and we both ended up consuming these really good but definitely soporific pumpkin cream-cheese cookies. By the time I left there at 7:00, I was ready for a nap. And then I sat in on a biology class my friend Ned was teaching to students from Northfield High. The assignment was to make a geologic time table, and the whole wonder of a REALLY LONG TIME made me feel completely fit for hibernation. I’m not sure if anyone else was even home when I got back. I tucked myself in. I was out before it was double digits.
I popped up at three to the most epic storm I think I've ever seen/heard/felt vibrate in the core of my being. I got out of bed, was unsure if I was in the middle of a giant car wash, and had the insight to take my trolls out of my window, before falling back asleep.
I woke up again at four and, man, I was ready to go! It was dark, wet, and cold, and in retrospect, I have no idea what pulled the strings that made me leave my bed, grab my Aristotle book, and head downstairs, but it was great. I live with three coffee drinkers, all of whom are serious about it in different ways: one grinds her own beans, one keeps her beans in the refrigerator, and the other has a drip machine larger than the computer I used to use to play Carmen Sandiego. Although I usually enjoy our mornings together of separate but equal caffeine ritualization, I have to admit that watching the sun come up over my own simple brew while reading about constituent ontology was pretty great.
I held off on going to Sayles, our student center, until 6. I discovered some interesting things when I arrived: first of all, I wasn’t the earliest. There was a girl in the computer lab with headphones and a laptop (who continued to work after I left two hours later). Also, people sleep in Sayles, or, at least, nap; it was good to see a couch being well-utilized.
And finally, Carleton has some great people who work at facilities. I sort of knew this before, but as I watched them, at 6:00 am, it really hit me. They wear bright colors, they keep the campus clean, they always say hello. For all of this complaining students often do about getting up early, we forget way too much about the people who really get up early and make the spaces we inhabit nice, unload the muffins we eat before class.
I know some seniors who are making Bucket Lists of things they want to make sure they do before they graduate. This probably is on no one's, and it wasn't intended, but it happened: I’ve shown up at the library before it opens on the weekend and I’ve been kicked out at night, but I had never been locked out on a weekday morning. I always thought our library opened at 7:30—turns out it’s 8:00. I waited in the little corridor outside (a nice thing about our buildings is they have little heated sections before the actual doors). As I watched the clock turn from 7:59 to 8 and saw a librarian hurry over with keys, I started to think about what a great, productive day I’d already had. And it was just beginning.
(Kind of --it ended at 10:00 that night. It took a few days to get back on a normal schedule).
It's not just me: